Cibodas National Park
“Puncak” - meaning “the Peak”, has been known ever since Dutch colonial days as the mountain resort for Jakarta’s inhabitants to breathe in fresh mountain air over the weekend. With its grand vistas facing the volcanic peaks of Salak, Gede and Pangrango, here is where Jakarta’s rich build their out of town bungalows atop hills overlooking green ricefields irrigated by gurgling streams.
Some 4 km. down the Puncak Pass is the large Cibodas Botanical Gardens, an extension of the Bogor Botanical Gardens, specially built to grow subtropical plants. Covering an 85 hectare area built in 1852 by Johannes Ellias Tijsmann, Cibodas lies at the entrance of the Mt. Gede-Pangrango National Park at an altitude of 1,300 meters to 1,425 meters above sea level. It has a collection of 1,293 species of plants, 144 types of lichens, and 1,826 herbariums. Besides being sprawling gardens for tourists to enjoy and relax, Cibodas is mainly a center for conservation, research and education on the environment. Right next to the Gardens is the road that leads trekkers up Mt. Gede-Pangrango.
The rhododendron gardens here contain a collection from Indonesia, Japan and China, as do the cherry blossom or sakura gardens that also have a collection from the Himalayas. Best time to see the flowers in bloom are January to February or between Augusts through September.
Cibodas used to be the source where Java’s first coffee and quinine was planted for exports to become famous all over the world. The Gardens have two guesthouses which are open to guests.
Travel to the mountain region of Puncak, Cibodas or Cipanas is by private car, taxi or tour bus, which on a weekday takes around one and a half hours from Jakarta via the Bogor toll road, but a lot longer during weekends and holidays. This area is best enjoyed during the week, since the road is normally jam packed on weekends, from Friday afternoons through Sundays, and especially on long weekends and school holidays. At weekends and holidays Police enforces one way traffic hours to ease heavy traffic congestions on these narrow roads, alternating travelling hours for traffic going up or down the mountain to and from Jakarta.